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Colt 499 PWP

Vivian Yan, Author

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What makes Hong Kong?

Perhaps another way of looking at neon signs in Hong Kong is to consider what it is that makes the city. The lights, a Western invention brought to an Eastern city, have taken on a life of their own in the hands of Hong Kong's people. But are they necessary to the existence or to the idea of Hong Kong?

From whose perspective do we view Hong Kong? If we are tourists looking for the sense of glitter and difference, we might call neon an essential part of the city. If we are residents, then perhaps we find neon nostalgic and recognizable, but annoying beneath our bedroom windows. 

What does neon tell us? It signifies a place to spend money by catching the eye of the potential consumer, thereby making it an economic artifact with an aesthetic value (though these aesthetics are, once again, debatable). Lights suggest life and activity, which shows prosperity while also bringing in more attention. As visitors to any new place, consider how many times we choose to turn down the side of the street that is more well-lit than the other side, because we think that brighter road will be more "interesting." 

Does Hong Kong need neon to be Hong Kong?
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